How to photograph the eclipse with your phone

Not sure how to go about shooting photos of the solar eclipse? We got you.

Jason Cipriani Contributing Writer, ZDNet
Jason Cipriani is based out of beautiful Colorado and has been covering mobile technology news and reviewing the latest gadgets for the last six years. His work can also be found on sister site CNET in the How To section, as well as across several more online publications.
Jason Cipriani
3 min read
Watch this: Do you live in the path of the solar eclipse?

Unless you've been living under a rock, you undoubtedly know about the total solar eclipse moving across the US on Monday, August 21. Of course, where you live (or plan on traveling to) will impact just how much of the eclipse you can see, but nonetheless, even if you can only see a small portion of it, you surely want to take photos. Right?

And since our phones are often our camera as well, here are some tips to take the best eclipse photos you can use with an iPhone or Android device.

Here's everything you need to know about the eclipse.

Protective glasses are a good idea

It should go without saying, but I'd be remiss if I didn't mention it: If you're going to look directly at the sun during the eclipse, you need to wear protective glasses. Not doing so can cause permanent damage to your eyes, and nobody wants that.

Putting those same glasses on your phone is also recommended. The eclipse shouldn't damage your phone's camera, but even NASA can't guarantee it won't happen (details are in the downloadable document). NASA suggests using the glasses will help you get the best shot possible by reducing glare and eliminate the potential for damage. Use a small piece of Scotch tape if you're having a hard time placing the glasses over your phone's lens.


Use a tripod or selfie stick to hold your device still. Not only does this allow you to watch the eclipse without having to hold up your phone, but it will ensure you take a photo with the best results.

Here are three DIY tripods you can make yourself with common household items.

Lock focus and exposure

Most phones have a camera app that allows you to lock both the focal point and the overall exposure. Once you have your phone placed on a tripod, long-press on the display to lock in the focus on the sun itself. From there, typically, you will need to slide a finger up or down on the display to adjust the exposure amount.

In this instance, you will undoubtedly want to lower the exposure setting in order to balance out the brightness of the sun.

Take a time-lapse

For the set-it-and-forget crowd, the easiest way to capture the entire eclipse is to take a time-lapse video.

Popular phones such as the iPhone and Samsung Galaxy line all have a built in time-lapse mode. Open the camera app, select time-lapse mode, and press the shutter button. The phone will take care of the rest.

For Android devices, such as the Google Pixel, without a time-lapse setting, you will need to install a third-party app. I recommend Camera FV-5 but there are plenty of other options in the Play Store. Just search for time lapse apps and find one that works best for you.

Remote shutter

Keep your (protected) eyes on the eclipse to watch the real thing, and don't watch through your phone's display. Instead of running over to your phone at the precise moment you want to take a photo, use a remote shutter to trigger the camera and capture the shot.

Apple Watch owners can use the camera app installed on the watch to open and trigger the iPhone's camera. Remember there's a three or 10-second countdown, so time it accordingly.

Android Wear users can also use one of the many apps in the Play Store to perform the same function. Most of the apps listed as a remote shutter haven't been updated in some time, so I'm not linking directly to one specific app. My advice is to install a few of them and find one that works with your phone. 

If you don't have a smart watch, use a pair of headphones and push the volume up or down button while the Camera app is open and active.

Watch this: Solar eclipse wows millions across the US, see it all